AbstractThe Front Range Mountain-plain Circulation (FRMC) is a large-scale diurnally driven wind system that occurs east of the Colorado Rocky Mountains in the United States and affects the weather both in the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains. As the climate warms, the snow albedo feedback will amplify the warming response in the Rocky Mountains during the spring, increasing the thermal contrast that drives the FRMC. In this study, we perform a 7-year pseudo global warming (PGW) regional climate change experiment along with an idealized PGW “fixed albedo” experiment to test the sensitivity of the FRMC to the snow albedo feedback (SAF). We find a mean increase in the springtime FRMC strength in the PGW experiment that is primarily driven by the snow albedo feedback. Furthermore, inter-annual variability of changes in FRMC strength is strongly influenced by inter-annual variability in the SAF. An additional case study experiment configured with a much higher resolution is performed to examine the fine-scale details of how the SAF and the FRMC interact. This experiment includes a passive tracer to investigate subsequent impacts on pollution transport. The case study reveals that loss of snow cover causes an increase in the strength of the FRMC. Advection by the strengthened FRMC increases the concentration of tracer emitted over the Great Plains, in the boundary layer over the Front Range Mountains.
Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences – American Meteorological Society
Published: Dec 4, 2017
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